A Prayer to Be Happy for Others
By Laura Bailey
“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” – Romans 12:10 NIV
I watched my daughter’s smile fade as she heard the name of her classmate announced for an award she was hoping to receive. I was happy to see my girl clapping her hands, hugging her friend, and not letting disappointment spoil the rest of the program. But my momma’s heart knew we would discuss this later.
As soon as the car door shut, my daughter, hands crossed, pronounced, “I wanted that award; I can’t believe it wasn’t me; I do all the right things too.” It didn’t matter that she held a fistful of accolades; her sole focus was not on what she accomplished but on what she didn’t obtain.
In a true teachable moment, her father and I shared the importance of being happy for our friends and doing the right thing rather than being acknowledged or rewarded for our behavior. As my words of admonishment quickly slipped out of my lips, I felt that familiar pain of conviction. I am almost 40 years old, and I still struggle with being truly happy for others when they receive something I want. Graciously the Spirit has worked in my heart to remove jealousy, anger, or bitterness in these situations, but if I am honest, I am still working on not withholding praise or compliments when things don’t go my way.
Can you relate?
- Your co-worker, who you know is more than deserving, gets the promotion you’ve been working overtime to get.
- Your sister announces she is pregnant with twins, and you have been struggling with years of infertility.
- Your dear friend shares that they are moving into a new home, a significant upgrade from their current digs, while your family is bursting at the seams in your tight quarters.
It is hard to be happy for others, even those we love and care for deeply, sometimes.
In Romans 12, Paul is writing to the Roman church sharing the marks of a faithful Christian. He reminds them that we have all been adopted into God’s family and are now siblings; we should treat each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. Our love should be genuine and sincere ( Romans 12:9), a deep affection for one another.
Paul also urges us to “outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10). But how do we do that? Is Paul promoting competition among the body of believers? In a sense, yes. Instead of going tit for tat with our affections, respect, and service, we are called to be “one-upping” each other constantly. Think about how different our world would be if we were always looking for ways to give more love, higher respect, and extra service to others.
We don’t have to withhold happiness for our brothers and sisters in Christ; instead, we can lavish them with sincere joy. This is one of those “preach easy lives hard” messages. In a fallen world, unhealthy competition often overtakes the desire to outdo each other in a positive way–but it doesn’t have to be that way. Especially for those who belong to Christ, we can never surpass the abundance of grace and mercy God gives us daily. When we remember the gospel and all that has been done for us, we can’t help but “rejoice with those who rejoice”, ( Romans 12:15).
Heavenly Father, thank you for the gifts of salvation. We are so grateful to be adopted into your family; thank you for the blessing of brothers and sisters in Christ. We ask that you help us as we celebrate others and give us a genuinely overjoyed heart when a brother or sister in Christ accomplishes something great or noble or is blessed, even when we feel more deserving. Give us the gift of self-forgetfulness, thinking less of ourselves and more of others.
Give us eyes to see how richly you have blessed us, looking only to you and not comparing our lives with others. Help us remember that we are not competing, you love your children equally, and we don’t have to earn your affection. Give us confidence in how you created us, and let us use our gifts to encourage one another. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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